I sometimes wonder just what football in general expects from fans.
Loyalty has no bounds and clubs, TV and the league authorities know that and are therefore more than willing to take unscrupulous advantage? Admission prices in grounds and the cost of season tickets have rocketed in real terms. What’s more clubs constantly prick at that loyalty for example changing their kit, be it away or at home, every season. Then, due the demands of TV, fans are expected to travel up and down the country to see their heroes play at the most godforsaken hours. Then on top of that despite their support when things beyond their control go pear shaped they accused of not backing their team as they are part of the problem. Bullh*t.
I believe that Liverpool fans’ approach to their team is unique and special. They have patience, they get behind the team and they are loyal. Over years and years they have continually demonstrated this, even when things haven’t been going so well, they have stuck by them and the manager when other fans would turn. The amount of times Liverpool fans patience has snapped, en masse, can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand however, everyone has a limit? No one should be expected to blindly support a team when it is clear that the standard of play, effort, attitude (call it what you will) is simply unacceptable to everyone. Wednesday was a case in point, it was a lesson to the manager and the players that they should not take our support for granted. Will it heeded though?
At first hand it seems not. Roy Hodgson’s comments about the lack of support from fans this season were insulting but is it just another example of another the cuff verbal faux pas from him.
“I am getting used to it, that is the way it is. We’ve had to live with that for quite a long time now as ever since I came here the famous Anfield support has not really been there”
At Newcastle HRH was seen, in a bout of exasperation, apparently rubbing his eyes. Perhaps he should apply the treatment to his ears?
Quite what Hodgson expects to achieve by talking in this way is beyond me, all it has done to heap further pressure on him. Perhaps a better response would to apologise to the fans for the performance and undertake to do better in today’s game against Bolton and leave at that. However, we have him foolishly and undiplomatically lashing out again just as he did against Rafa earlier this season, and players such as Torres and Joe Cole. What does this achieve except make Hodgson look more and more of a loose cannon? Speaking in this way simply portrays the pressure he is under and undermines confidence in his ability. HRH has had to take back his words twice now. Once for comments about Rafa earlier this autumn and then yesterday over his remarks about the fans.
“I’m disappointed and I certainly regret if I have offended them in any way… It was not meant to be an offensive comment in any way, I was responding to a question about how it felt to be jeered by fans, making it clear it hurts me and I was disappointed by it because no-one wants to feel they are unpopular. I was taking responsibility and prepared to accept that I would be in the firing line. I’m very disappointed if that has been transformed into me attacking the fans”
HRH is only human yet he is an experienced manager and should know better than to make comments like that. Hicks and Gillett know the perils of getting on the wrong side of the fans and surely Hodgson knows that occasionally unpopularity does go with the job. Many understand the situation he finds himself in taking the tiller in a period of uncertainty and transition. I believe most people were (note the word “were”) willing to give him enough leeway and patience and see how things go however, every Liverpool fan is worried and sensitive about he way things have gone in the past and, despite the takeover, they way they may go in the future. So to have the man you hopefully trust to see us though part of this period start slagging you as if, despite demonstrable patience and concern, you are part of the problem touches a very, very raw nerve.
HRH has apologised however, will it be enough? There are other problems not all of them of his own making or under his control however, for his sake a win against a difficult Bolton side today is imperative. Failure will bring more pressure and with the January transfer window acting as a natural “lets take stock” seasonal milestone one wonders if we’ll see the first show of muscles from the owners?
If he does go HRH won’t be totally to blame but his foolish words will not have helped him.
Happy New Year.